Help End Homelessness for the Disabled and those with Mental Health Challenges
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We have all noticed the number of homeless on the streets in California. Most homeless have few choices but to be homeless because they have been forgotten and swept aside by the system. Approximately 40% of homeless have disabilities and that number is rising quickly. Another 33% have serious mental illness and that number is also on the rise. In 2001, The University of Pennsylvania studied 5000 homeless people with mental illness. They cost taxpayers $40,500 per year for their use of emergency rooms, psychiatric hospitals, shelters and prisons. This ineffectual merry-go-round from one service to another has not helped to solve the “homeless problem” and they just don't have the ability to help themselves. Many people are self-medicating like my Aunt Pam was. My Aunt Pam was homeless and living on the street for many years. My family tried to assist her but she always ended up back on the streets, unable to maintain any kind of structured life and trying to cancel out her mental health conditions with alcohol. It was easier for her to say she was an alcoholic than to say she had Bipolar disorder because of the stigmatism of mental health conditions. My aunt never reached full maturity because of a lack of oxygen at birth.
We need to provide for the elderly and disabled among us like my Aunt Pam. These are not the "Octomom's" who milk our system. These are the people who really need our help. There are programs now that can help them but lack funding. We need to make sure these programs have enough funding so that any person who needs help or special care can get it. The program that needs funding and could help the most is the Assisted Living Waiver Program. I propose that this program be funded by the CALOTTERY. If the CALOTTERY was opened up to this program it may never again be in a budget crisis like it is in now. It's funding has only been provided for through 2019 and is already short of funds, that has created a waiting list of people who may never get the help they need. Imagine all those elderly people who rely on that program being evicted from their assisted living facility due to closures as funds become unavailable and imagine the burden to our public services they would create as they seep back into the homeless population. We need to make sure that never happens. Now imagine your community with less homeless people. What would our beaches and parks and public places look like if they were used for our enjoyment rather than temporary homes for people? The police force would have more time on their hands to do real police work, instead of spending their budgets on housing and feeding these people in prisons and jails. Their medical care would be managed by their doctor instead of costly emergency rooms and psychiatric hospitals. Shelters would be able to take care of the remaining populations and focus on getting them in more permanent situations instead of being overwhelmed with need.
So, why is the Assisted Living Waiver Program the best starting place? The answer is nice and simple. Jobs and taxes! Many assisted living facilities have the room for many more residents yet remain half empty. It is a common problem in the industry to go into bankruptcy because there are not enough elderly residents that can afford their services. As these facilities fill up, jobs, revenue and taxes will be created. All this will likely create competition for dollars and costs may decrease because of this competition.
Currently the Assisted Living Waiver Program serves only about 10 counties in California but if it could serve all of California by having a consistent budget from CA LOTTERY then all counties in California could benefit from this program and homelessness for Veterans, the disabled and those with mental health conditions could become a thing of the past. We work hard as Californians and we do see a lot of waste occurring. I know we would all welcome a change that would give us the opportunity to do the most good with our money for those who truly need it the most. For this reason, I humbly ask you to sign and share this petition with as many people as you can. Let’s win the fight against homelessness and create a safety net for our loved ones that no one slips through! Thank you for your help.
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